Exploring the Hidden Europe in 2004 and 2008-2011

In 2004, I visited all 25 countries in Eastern Europe. You'll find the blog entries from that trip here. In 2008-2011, I returned to see what had changed since that time. With these two visits, five years apart, I accumulated enough material for my 750-page book, The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us.

This blog now has many excerpts from The Hidden Europe. But who the hell reads anymore? Just look at the best photos from Eastern Europe!

This map reflects how I define Eastern Europe. Eastern Europeans love to deny that they're in Eastern Europe. I tackle how and why I define Eastern Europe the way I do in the Introduction of The Hidden Europe.

Eastern Europe map from Francis Tapon's book, 'The Hidden Europe'

Muhu Island map

Guest Post by Maxwell Donovan

Whenever people hear about Europe they immediately think of Paris. Very few know that there’s more to this vast continents than just Disneyland and great wine.

Lots of amazing attractions and places of interest are spread all around Europe. You just need to know where and when to go to see them. Eastern Europe in particular, boasts outstanding cities, and the array of things to do here is endless.

Muhu Island Map

6. Estonia - Muhu Island

The tiny but enticing island of Muhu – which can only be accessed in winter through an iced road – is one of the best travel spots you can explore in Estonia.

Onsite, the thatched cottages, working windmills and old-fashioned allure of the place will make you go back to the 18th century. Only 2,000 people live on the island, and most of the locals still abide by centuries-old customs and traditions. This is exactly what makes Muhu an incredible destination.

Europe is the safest continent you can travel in, which explains why it is also the most popular tourist destination in the world. However, even in tourism paradise things can go wrong. Here's what to consider.

Cycling safety

In the opening of The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us, I praise Finland for its biker-friendly environment (you can download the chapter for free and read it for yourself).

However, while I was right that Finland is wonderful for biker safety, it's the Central/Eastern European countries that are the best overall. 

Cycling safety in Europe

Biking across Europe is fun. I've even recommended biking across El Camino de Santiago in Spain. However, you still might want get insurance for your bike and health insurance too. And buy a really good lock because bike theft is rife.

Guest Post by Romeo Demes:

Galesnjak - Island of LoveCroatia has firmly established itself as one of Europe’s premium tourist destinations. Its major attractions like Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes and Zadar have gained global tourist acclaim.

As a result, most visitors to Croatia travel to these attractions. However, these attractions are just the tip of the iceberg. Croatia has numerous jewels and hidden gems, many of which have been delighting curious adventurers for years.

If you are one of those who are willing to look beyond the standard travel brochures, then these hidden gems are the perfect destination for you. Some of the hidden gems are the following:

Galesnjak – The Island of Love

Popularly referred to as the “Lover’s Island”, Galesnjak is quietly emerging as one of Croatia’s top romantic destinations. This is because it is the most heart-shaped island in the world. This fact was first brought to the attention of the world by Google Earth images in 2009.

The island has since become popular stopover for couples on a romantic holiday. Therefore, if you are travelling with your better half, you may want to drop by there.

The island itself is small, uninhabited and mostly covered with trees and shrubs. It is surrounded by pristine waters of the Pasman channel, and has a few pebble beaches. The majority of the island is wild and untamed. You can have a picnic, enjoy a quiet romantic time or even camp through the night. Most people who visit the island set base at Pasman Island or in the historic town of Zadar.

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